Today the Membership of the Non Partisan Association held their Annual General Meeting, and I was elected to the Board of Directors along with ten other new Directors. These were my remarks to the membership:
Mr. Chairman, Directors and fellow members of the NPA. My name is Sean Bickerton, and I am here to ask for your vote as a candidate for the Board of Directors.
Four months ago you voted for me to be one of your candidates for City Council. I was honoured to be asked to carry your banner, and I did so with pride and energy across every neighourhood and constituency in this city.
I was lucky enough to learn campaigning from the best – Kim Capri and Suzanne Anton. If you’ve ever had the privilege of trying to keep up with either of them on the campaign trail, you know what outstanding and tireless canvassers they are!
But we’re among family here today, so we can acknowledge the fact that despite heroic efforts by many, 2008 was devastating to the NPA. We were divided. We allowed our opponents to define us. And we got hammered at the polls.
In just two days though, 2008 will be over and 2009 begins … What are we going to make of the New Year?
I have grown to understand the history that has brought us here. And I’m sure there are many legitimate grievances and grudges, both large and small, that remain for some unfinished.
But I challenge everyone in this room – every candidate, every leader, every adult and every single donor to set aside the bloody battles that have torn this party apart for the past six years.
To win, we need everyone pulling together. What do we need to do?
1) Reclaim the centre.
2) Support our elected representatives with the resources and community support they need to be effective in their role as a loyal opposition.
3) Act like the independent political party we have become and rebuild from the ground up by integrating with the voters of the city at every level, in every neighbourhood and with every constituency.
4) Understand and address the very real issues of livability that are a prime concern to voters.
What do I offer the Board as it undertakes this effort?
* I offer eight years experience as a successful web entrepreneur – I understand the medium and how to harness its power.
* I offer a lifetime of experience in the performing arts, both here in Vancouver and as a Vice President of Columbia Artists in New York.
* I offer nearly fourty years of community activism, organizing countless coffee shops, youth drop-ins, crisis lines, safe-sex campaigns and proud advocacy for gay rights and racial tolerance.
* I offer my involvement in the Downtown Eastside, where I am helping to clean up my neighbourhood of Tinseltown and developing programs at Union Gospel Mission designed to help grads of their alcohol and addiction program ease the transition from assisted to independent living.
And finally, I offer experience gained on the front lines as a candidate for City Council.
If your goal is to move beyond the fights of the past, revitalize the NPA, re-engage the citizenry and win the next election, I’m your candidate. Please vote for Sean Bickerton.
And if you do, my pledge to you is that I will do everything in my power to help rebuild this organization into a progressive force in city politics for seventy years to come!
Thank you! And I wish you all a very Happy New Year!